LEARNWhat Is The ATAR And How Will It Affect You

If you want to know what the ATAR is, how it works and how it will effect you in the future, this is the article for you!


The simple truth is that for thousands of students in NSW, the ATAR is a thing.

Some of you may be eagerly awaiting your 2018 ATAR and others are just about to get started on their journey to an ATAR.

Let me break it down for you … sometimes understanding a little more helps it feel less overwhelming.

What is the ATAR?

The ATAR  is a percentile mark between 0.00 and 99.95 that is used to measure your personal academic achievements in relation to other HSC students.

Basically, the system adds up all of your marks from Year 12 and compares them against the marks of your friends that you have had since year seven. I know, this sounds almost like a system from the Hunger Games. But I promise that  NESA and UAC do attempt to keep the system as ‘fair’ as possible.


Everyone thinks that the scariest term in the HSC glossary of keywords is ‘ATAR’. False. It is ‘Scaling’. According to Matrix Education, scaling is the process that is completed by UAC to determine the mark that a student would receive if all courses were equal in student numbers and marks. It transforms us from real people to clones, just to put it simply. You will receive adjusted HSC marks which are used to calculate your ATAR. The system is very complex and this is probably the reason why you will receive your ATAR almost two months after you finish your exams. Talk about drawn-out pain!

How the ATAR will Affect You

Your ATAR can affect you in many different ways. The impact that your ATAR will have is different for everyone.

University Applications

The most obvious thing that your ATAR affects is your future university applications. Your ATAR does determine what courses you will be accepted into if you decide to go to uni. Universities that you apply for will either accept or reject you dependant on your ATAR. However, universities noways offer amazing pathway courses that allow you to be accepted into courses do not accept lower ATAR’s. There are so many new ways to achieve your career goals, such as TAFE and independent colleges. The options are limitless, and your ATAR barely makes a difference in the long-term.

Mental Health

When I was in Year 12, I noticed that my mental health was really affected by the idea of my ATAR. No matter if you struggle or excel in school, the ATAR can still affect how you see yourself. I was stuck thinking the same thing as so many other students, that my ATAR defined my self-worth. It wasn’t until trials that I realised that it can’t be possible for a number to define a person. The ATAR system is designed to calculate numbers, not people. Your mental health is a really important part of doing well in the HSC, feel free to read our articles on How to Look After Your Mental Health During Your HSC to read more.

If you are struggling with these issues, please reach out to one of the links below to receive support.



Have your say.

Sign up!

Be the first to find out about everything YOMM… freebies, competitions, reviews, events and news.

And don't stress, we'll only email you about this awesome stuff ☝️ no spam!

Join now